Meeting the world

Aurelio Porfiri

Those who see the encounter with the world as one of the means to understand the crisis in the Church would not be wrong. Certainly one cannot understand the Church outside of the context of the world, as it must be right where the message of salvation it bears is most needed. But she must always be vigilant so that, by not conforming to the mentality of the time, she is not a slave to the ways of the world and currents of thought that contradict her saving mission. So, as the healthy tradition teaches, in the world but not of the world.

But at a certain point in the Church, some of her protagonists thought it was important to be “likable”, and for this reason, it worked hard so that those who were inside remained and those who were outside would enter. This effort followed reasoning: if we put ourselves inside the (commercial) culture of those who are outside, they will enter and those who are already inside will stay. In fact, decades later, we can say that those who are outside did not go in and indeed were joined by many of those inside. That was a very unfortunate development of the situation and still today there is not a good solution in view, despite the efforts in one direction or in the other.

Among those who were in the Church and who wanted at all costs not to abandon it, an important gap was created, those who have serious problems with everything that follows the Council (traditionalists) and those who have problems with everything that precedes it (progressives). In the middle, there were many indifferent and habitual people, who treated their religion as if it were panettone (a traditional food in Italy) at Christmas. In short, the rescue plan has obviously failed. In this plan, evidently, the recovery of young people was of primary importance, especially after the collapse of traditional Catholic associations. In this, especially under John Paul II, the role of the new ecclesial movements was important, perhaps too much, according to some attentive observers.

Today, in fact, two important phenomena are noted: on one hand the bourgeoisie of the ecclesial movements, which have lost much of their driving force, on the other, their questioning through internal investigations or investigations promoted by the hierarchy. Yes, the ecclesial movements are very diverse among themselves and they have certainly played different roles in the Church under the previous Popes. But one cannot fail to notice that today there is this kind of situation in which they seem not so proactive as they were before. 

In short, this Church-world relationship is at the heart of understanding the current situation. A situation that certainly has not an easy solution as one can expect. Certainly prayer, in the current environment, helps a lot.

(Image by Diego Ortiz from Pixabay)